Thursday, 16 September 2010

Cornish pasties

Continuing on a Paul Hollywood theme, this is his classic cornish pasty recipe. This means that the pastry is neither flaky nor lardy - it's robust and faintly chewy - as it would have to be to be transported down t'pit by the miners for whom these were invented.

The flavour of this recipe is just excellent and if you've never made a cornish pasty before and fancy having a go, this is a good recipe that works well and will produce something that tastes exactly like some cornish pasties that you have eaten in your life.

What it is not is an unctuous, greasy, sinful pasty you might purchase at Greggs or similar - just so we're clear. You'd probably be able to achieve that with a very high lard-content pastry, but I don't have exact measurements for that. Yet.

Makes 4 large pasties

For the pastry
500g strong white flour
120g vegetable shortening, eg Stork
1tsp salt
25g butter
174ml water
1 beaten egg

For the filling
350g beef skirt or braising steak
350g waxy potatoes
200g swede
175g onions
salt and black pepper

1 Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut the veg shortening and butter up into small chunks and add that. I squeezed it all round a bit in the flour to mix it in but that isn't neccessary.

2 Add all the water and mix round until  it comes together roughly. Then go in with your hands and bring together. Knead on a clean surface for 5-6 minutes. If you're feeling a bit neurotic, I recommend putting a timer on because 5 minutes is longer than you think it is.

3 After five mins the pastry ought to be a uniform colour, pastry-like and semi-silky. Stick this in the fridge for a minimum of 30 mins

4 Chop up all your veg very small. I'm talking 0.5cm cubes here. Chop the steak up bloody small, too. Mix it all together in a bowl and season. Add one more pinch of salt than you think you need and at least two more twists of pepper. A cornish pasty is traditionally quite a peppery thing.

5 The assembly part is quite tricky and is basically down to your individual dexterity. I rolled my pastry out then used an upside-down bowl to cut out a large-ish circular bit of pastry. I filled the middle with pasty mixture, brushed around the circumference of the pastry with egg wash and then sealed it. But I'm buggered if I understand how "crimping" the edges works. You may have more luck than me. I possibly, like the fated Jas on the GBBO, over-filled my pasties.

6 Lay out your pasties on a well-greased baking sheet, because these leak steak juice something terrible and will superglue themselves to an un-greased surface. Brush all over with egg wash and cook for between 45-55 minutes at 170C or 150C for fan-assisted ovens. I did mine for 150C at 45mins and then as they weren't going brown enough, wacked up the temperature to 180C for another ten minutes.

Eat down a mine. Or just in your kitchen.


  1. Just taken delivery of that book and will now try these but nervous about the pretty crimping you're supposed to do too. Can you do the crumpet recipe next please so you can road test it? Too cheeky? Sorry!

  2. Great to come across this having just returned from West Cornwall. It was surprisingly hard to find a pasty that didn't sit on our tummies like a brick, and many weren't sufficiently seasoned. This recipe looks failsafe (and in line with the regulations being imposed by the EC, as they bizarrely try to give the pasty regional protected status: is this really necessary?!).

  3. I love your blog, have visited a few times over the last however long, but tend not to comment.

    I have been thinking about making pasties for a while now, and plan to do so as soon as swede comes in my veggie box. This looks like a good recipe, but the pasties of my childhood (I grew up in West Cornwall) had the veg all mixed up but the steak just placed on top with a good knob of butter. I'm sure it makes absolutely no difference to the taste, mind.

    Laura, even a good homemade pasty will, at times sit heavily in your stomach. It's a big load of stodge for people doing hard graft... or a yummy treat for the rest of us :)

  4. Hi Jo,

    Great to have you here.

    That sounds like a good idea, I suppose that makes it easier to control the amount of meat you get in each pasty - if you mix it all up together you end up needing to pick out bits of steak from the mixture to make sure the pasties have an even amount. Sounds sensible really.

  5. Hi Esther :)

    Meat portion control is probably the reason, I hadn't really thought about it before. Your pasties look lovely though, I hope you enjoyed them. If you eat too many you'll have to start deciding whether you like them best hot or cold!

    Also, on the Bake Off they were going on a bit about soggy bottoms - I like my pasties cold, with a slightly soggy bottom. Perhaps this is just nostalgia though, I will not judge anyone who would prefer to eat their pasty warm and not soggy :D

  6. Oh, and crimping is not as hard as it looks - I use my thumbs with the crimping edge away from me. Start at one side, and fold the edge upwards with your thumb. Then place the thumb of your lagging hand on this crimp while moving your leading thumb over and make a new crimp using your thumb. It should be a rhythm but it's quite hard to explain. I'm also notoriously cack-handed so maybe it will only work for me. There is a specific number too, but that's bordering on pedantic!